Masters Of Business Intelligence

By Mary Brandel, Computerworld |  Software

Sibigtroth says it's important to hire database designers and data modelers with a solid understanding of multidimensional and relational databases. "If they start to use the tool and don't understand the architectural fundamentals, their cubes or reports won't perform very well," she says.

Team Approach

Combine business skills with a solid footing in databases and queries, and you have a great mix for business intelligence systems. But it doesn't all have to come from one person. Shop At Home Network has created a team of three senior developers for its Oracle-based business intelligence system.

One team member is responsible for creating the end user's view into the data. Another is a business analyst and project lead who finds out what types of queries are needed and how users want to see information summarized to create the best system design. The third, a database administrator, is responsible for the physical structure of the warehouse itself and making sure it gets loaded correctly so users get the right information.

In order to get top recognition as a business intelligence guru, it's best to take a renewed interest in how your business works. After all, the point of business intelligence is to give users near-instantaneous access to new information and enable them to make midcourse corrections on a regular basis.

For example, Ken Buchanan, vice president of information reporting at Health Risk Management Inc., relies on his team of database administrators, software engineers, quality-assurance professionals and data modelers in order to be able to use the most sophisticated capabilities in the company's business intelligence system from MicroStrategy Inc. But, he says, he also relies on professionals who are "somewhere between technicians and content experts," some of whom are businesspeople with an aptitude for technology.

Minneapolis-based Health Risk Management provides health plan management and information services to managed-care and insurance companies. The system from Vienna, Va.-based MicroStrategy enables it to build reports for a variety of users and allows these users to receive the reports in the format they choose and even provides parameters for the reports they want to see.

In some ways, IT professionals in the business intelligence field have to be one step ahead of business users.

"Quite often, the tool gets bogged down because the users are doing things they didn't tell you they wanted to do," Sibigtroth says. "But if IT understands the business, they can work more collaboratively."

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